I first decided to hand quilt my latest quilt – “Afternoon Delight,” a 2020 Block of the Month project designed by the late Sue Garman for The Quilt Show. I finished the quilt top in February, more than a year after I started it. I was pretty iffy on my choice of hand quilting or machine quilting because I really love free-motion quilting on my domestic sewing machine. And, machine quilting is so much quicker. I realized I could have a finished quilt in a much shorter time if I do it by machine. I have never even considered sending a quilt out to be quilted by someone else even though the result of professional quilting is spectacular. So for me, the question was simply one way or the other.
As I’ve stated in a prior post Quilting challenges, my last hand-quilting endeavor was a bit of a disaster. While I loved hand-quilting in the past, a few years ago, I am older now. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be and I have tendonitis in my arms, some carpal tunnel in my hands, and I’ve never really found a way to be completely comfortable. I never learned how to quilt on a frame. I’ve only quilted on my lap with a hoop.
When I’ve hand-quilted in the past, I used a 16” round hoop once used by my husband’s grandmother. You might say I inherited it. Granny made lots of beautiful quilts, one of which I wrote about: Remembering Granny and her quilts
The last time I hand-quilted I tried using no hoop at all, which was definitely easier, but that method had other problems for me. I spray-basted the layers together and they easily shifted without the tension a hoop provides.My brain went back and forth on my whether to hand quilt or machine quilt this lovely piece of work, one of the most complex quilts I’ve ever made. But, as so many quilters will attest, this quilt spoke to me. It wanted to be hand-quilted, largely because so much of it was done by hand. Once I made the decision, I reasoned that this was my best and really, only option.
I decided to try my hand, no pun intended, on a small quilt hoop on a stand. I had no idea if I would like this thing, but it did have many advantages, such as its complete customization. The quilt can be turned 360º and the frame can be moved from its upright position to a different height and rake to make using it more comfortable. The biggest advantage for me though, is that it would provide a place to keep my quilt while in progress. I could easily scoot the entire thing out of the way when I’m not using it, and scoot it back to my chair when I want to quilt.
I guess I’m happy with what I call ‘my baby quilt frame, because all I want to do now is quilt. Thankfully the weather has been cool and rainy, so quilting for hours at a time, while I listen to audio books is just about a perfect way to spend a few happy hours. I am using wool batting for the first time. Although I would never consider myself a great quilter, that is the beauty of this – I don’t have to be great to create something beautiful.
I am very pleased at the simple design I have come up with and how it looks on the finished blocks. I am about halfway done at this point. When I wake up, I just can’t wait to get a few things done around the house so I can sit back down and quilt. I quilt in front of the television; I quilt while I listen to the readings of my audible books. I quilt to music.
Could there any better therapy for the pandemic year from hell? I don’t think so.
Here is a sneak peek at how things are going.
I guess Kasey thinks this one will be hers. I always have the greatest quilt critics, although they never seem to have found a quilt they didn’t like. This one will be no different.